We all want the best for our children. We work hard to provide for them, we (try to) make it to every extracurricular event, we force them to eat something (anything) besides mac n cheese or hotdogs and we hope they grow up to be happy and kind.
But how socially responsible are we making them? Are they connected to making this world a better place for their generation and the ones after them?
We should all have a sense to act for the benefit of society at large recognizing that social responsibility must be inter-generational since the actions of one generation have consequences on those following. Social responsibility can apply to both individuals and groups and can easily be incorporated into daily actions and decisions, particularly ones that will impact other people or the environment.
Often, we are too busy in our own little worlds to think we have time to help others, or care for the environment outside of our own backyards.
But what if you could do it all together as a family? What if you traded in a park play date for a park clean up date? Or delayed your family dinner night out to make dinner as a family for a family in need? No matter what your child is in to, they can find a connection to making the world a better place.
Start small and build good habits around caring for the environment.
Kids love being outside and any hike, bike ride or park outing can turn into a quick lesson.
Teaching mine about littering came easy. We will perpetually have snacks and tissues with us so, we made sure they were aware of taking out what we brought in.
There’s also an opportunity to teach that litter from others is not dirty to clean up after but good for the earth. Treading lightly on the pretty things and leaving them where they are for others to enjoy also teaches preservation and conservation. It only takes a quick encounter with a spider or an opossum for a lesson on sharing space with creatures big and small.
There are so many great places around Austin to volunteer for park cleanups, clean water, and plant or animal preservation.
I have integrated making teams and organizations successful in finding their sense of social responsibility in my career but at home our oldest was running low on gratitude and giving back.
I had a hard time finding activities appropriate for a then 6 year old and discovered Generation Serve (formerly Little Helping Hands). This amazing organization has done all the leg work for you! They’ve built a roster of deserving non-profits in and around the Austin area and have coordinated a ton of age appropriate activities for the whole family, from 3+.
We started with a park clean up and while the fresh air was nice and the ease of tasks were perfect, the message still hadn’t hit home. We followed up the park with a volunteer opportunity at a food pantry. During the activity at the pantry our daughter made so many observations and asked so many questions that it not only encouraged conversation about the differences in her life and those we were helping but gave her a new sense of joy in helping others. We cataloged the words of wisdom from this activity and went in search of our next pure joy moment of giving back.
We’ve now been participating as a family for 6years each time filling our “do good, feel good” cup over and over again making cards for ill children, reading to shelter dogs, cooking meals, and crafting Birthday boxes for foster kids. I highly recommend checking out what opportunities Generation Serve may have for you and your family.
Children often empathize and identify with their peers. Finding a sense of social responsibility that impacts their peers may be the key to success.
It is often eye opening to children to learn not everyone has what they have, or gets to do what they do, or go where they go. Many of their peers around the globe don’t even have some of the same basic necessities they might take for granted. Creating that awareness, whether they become a lifetime volunteer or not, could have an impact on social responsibility as a whole with slight tweaks to how they act, conserve, or the career they choose.